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Posted: 02 February 2007 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]
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January 29, 2007
The Offensiveness of Taking Offense
By Selwyn Duke
“The voicing of the unpopular being the very soul of free speech, the right to give and take offense shall not be infringed.”
Sometimes I think it is time to insert the above into our First Amendment.  Whether it’s an off-color joke or colorful commentary, it’s now hard to make anything but the most plain vanilla statements without offending somebody.  In fact, so ingrained is the notion of being offended that it’s become a topic of TV commercial satire.  Just think about GEICO’s commercials with stone-age characters taking umbrage at the slogan, “So easy a caveman can do it.”


Ironically, associating cavemen with being thin-skinned is quite apropos, since it is a frailty born of the more ignoble aspects of man’s nature.  As to this, I think about documentarian Alby Mangels who, while visiting primitives in Papua New Guinea, warned against “knocking back their hospitality.”  Prudence dictated he be wary, as those less spiritually and morally evolved are ruled by pride, the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins.  And, lest we entertain the fancy that it is the superior person who doesn’t give offense, know that it is actually the superior one who doesn’t take it.  It’s hard to offend the humble.


In truth, though, our civilization is not as overcome by pride as by duplicity.  And this is what is truly offensive (in the way an odor is so) about this offensiveness business: Screaming “That’s offensive!” is nothing but a ploy.  Yes, you heard it here first, few who emit that utterance are actually offended. 


They just don’t happen to like what you’re saying.


I’ll explain precisely what is going on.  Liberals trade on this ploy, using it as a standard response whenever their sacred cows come under scrutiny.  If they were tolerant, they would simply accept that some will espouse what we despise.  If they were honest, they would simply say what they mean.  But tolerance is just another ploy, and honesty, well, it has never served the ends of the left, and never less so than here.  A translation of what they really mean to say will illustrate why:

“I hate what you’re saying, it makes me angry and you should shut your mouth! [expletives omitted]”
Of course, to exhibit such petulance would reveal their vaunted tolerance for the facade it is and demonstrate their moral inferiority.  And telling others to shut-up is the stuff of neither polite society nor effective debate, so a different strategy is in order. 


And the “Offensiveness Ploy” (OP) is ideal, as it shifts the onus from them to you.  A direct command to still your tongue would make them appear the villains, intolerant, immature, imperious clods, incapable of brooking dissent.  It would be offensive.  But the OP makes you seem the offensive one.  When told to shut-up, we feel transgressed against and know we occupy the moral high ground, a place from which taking the offense is justified.  The OP, however, casts us as the transgressors, cowing us as we look up from our valley of disgrace.  It works: Accusing others of giving offense is the best offense, as it places them on the defense. 


But you don’t have to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to know strategies change with the situation.  And this is why, when the bounds of propriety are loosed and the power is all theirs, liberals often show their true colors, resorting to a tactic blunter and less sophisticated but even more effective: Force.


Just think about the “students” - they don’t deserve the designation - who attacked Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist at that institution of lower learning, Columbia University.  Think about incidents where other conservative speakers were given the same treatment on other campuses, a phenomenon that prompted pundit Ann Coulter to retain bodyguards.  You may think I’m painting the left with too broad a brush but, I can assure you, the very same spoiled brats would use the OP in any situation wherein the balance of power didn’t favor them.  But in a bastion of liberalism, where accountability is as absent as sensibility, they don’t have to.  And here’s their message:

“I hate what you’re saying, it makes me angry and you should shut your mouth!  And you’re going to shut your mouth whether you like it or not.  We don’t have to take it anymore [expletives omitted].”
I suppose it’s the one situation where you could say that honesty is definitely not refreshing.


Would that anyone claim I’m wrong, he has much to explain.  Like, for instance, why these tolerant, inoffensive liberals, upon achieving institutional power, become similarly heavy-handed and use the principles of tolerance and offensiveness to squelch ideas they dislike.  They have given us speech codes at universities and in corporations and hate speech laws in foreign countries.  And the sanctimony, oh, the sanctimony.  As they ostracize, penalize, terminate and arrest those who sin against political correctness, they tell us they’re just protecting others from hateful feelings when they really just feel hateful. 


Can there be doubt of this?  This oh-so-sensitive set is the very one that defends the immersion of a crucifix in a jar of urine as artistic expression and the equation of 9/11 victims with Nazis as academic freedom.


If the truth about the OP hasn’t raised your ire yet, understand that it is nothing less than part of the groundwork necessary for social engineering.  If you want to effect social and legislative change, you must win the social and political debates so as to garner support for it.  But if you can’t defeat your adversaries in the arena of ideas, you have to keep them out of the competition; if you can’t refute what’s argued, you must stop it from being spoken.


So, first you demonize speech refutative of your agenda by labeling it “offensive,” which cultivates social codes and attendant social pressure facilitative of the change you desire.  Then, as these social codes become more widely accepted and entrenched, expressing them through rules and laws becomes more acceptable.  This leads to the next stage, the organizational expression of them - the speech codes in various private institutions.  And once sufficiently inured to these, it’s time for the last stage of this imprisoning of ideas: The legislative expression of these social codes known as hate speech laws.   


Case in point: It becomes harder for traditionalists to argue against homosexual marriage if they’re scorned and ostracized for saying homosexual behavior is sinful, destructive or disordered.  It becomes harder still if those who do so are punished within the context of our schools and businesses.  And it becomes impossible if the government arrests you for such expression. 


Tyrants agree: the easiest way to win a debate is to prevent the other side from debating. 


Thus, there is a lesson here we ignore at our own peril.  You can have freedom from being offended or you can have freedom of speech, but you cannot have both.


This is why I have no tolerance for the Offensiveness Ploy.  It is manipulation by the mediocre, victory for the vacuous, derision by the dull.  It is the protestation of a child, one with neither the brute force to be a Brownshirt nor the executive force to be a Blackshirt.  If someone is offended by truth, the problem lies not with it being uttered.  If someone doesn’t want it uttered, he has a problem with truth. 


The great victory of the left is that it has made us apologize for being right.  A few may be truly offended, being in the grip of primitive pride.  But, mostly, we are in the grip of a primitive ploy.  We need more offensiveness, not less.  We must offend the liars, the degraded, the darkness, the destroyers of civilization.


So my answer to the offended is, you have every right to be offended.  Now, grow up.  If you can’t sit at the table of reasoned debate, go back to your bread and circuses.  Let the adults figure out the problems of the world.

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“No man who refuses to bear arms in defense of his nation can give a sound reason why he should be allowed to live in a free country”  T. Roosevelt

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not.”  Thomas Jefferson”

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid” - Gen Eisenhower.

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Posted: 03 February 2007 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Loud applause!

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Posted: 04 February 2007 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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WOW

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As I get older I find I only have two major problems.  First, my memory seems to be going.

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Posted: 04 February 2007 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I read this on the Crossfit mother ship website and enjoyed it so much I emailed it to myself.  What a great article.

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No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
-Hebrews 12:11

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Posted: 05 February 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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What I find interesting when I read these diatribes is how often the ones written by the far right are really so similar to the ones written by the far left in that they usually just end in name calling and a claim to moral superiority. 

I think most people would agree with the first three paragraphs but what I find idiotic is the writer claiming only “liberals” claim offence. My experience is both the far right and the far left equally stake out this ground.  But then it should have been expected from someone who openly supports people like Jim Gilchrist who supports and recruits from the National Alliance, one of the biggest neo-Nazi organizations in this country and Ann Coulter who spoke fondly of former Senator Joe McCarthy and said the following about widows of 911 victims-

“These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief- arazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much,”

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If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. – Samuel Adams

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Posted: 05 February 2007 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I agree that both sides do this, absolutely.
I posted the article because a good, valid point was made, that should be made more often.
I love Ayn Rand, for so much insightful thought, but I am neither an athiest or a supporter of adultery.
Things can be thought provoking and contain nuggets even if some of the content is…..well, offensive.

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“No man who refuses to bear arms in defense of his nation can give a sound reason why he should be allowed to live in a free country”  T. Roosevelt

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not.”  Thomas Jefferson”

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid” - Gen Eisenhower.

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Posted: 05 February 2007 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It is wrong to pick and choose who can have free speech. You can burn the flag. You can put feces on an image of the Virgin Mary. You can rap about killing cops. But my father may soon be in danger of being jailed for speaking his beliefs in a pulpit to a group of people who are voluntarily there and share similar beliefs. That is a huge problem to me. His statements are not inflammatory. He doesn’t prompt anyone to hate crimes. He just states his beliefs as he always has, and the people who want to hear it sit through it.

Political correctness is crap, and it is a travesty when political force is used to back it up. As BBOJ has stated, an article can have a great deal of legitimacy without being the complete gospel. Perhaps it would be prudent to verify what points are being agreed upon before jumping to conclusions about finger pointing and name calling. In the meantime, I stand by my original post.

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Posted: 05 February 2007 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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GI I agree with you.

And yes, I think the door swings both ways.

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No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
-Hebrews 12:11

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Posted: 05 February 2007 02:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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GI

I assume your response is aimed at my comments and I am a little confused about what you wrote.  Nothing in my original post should have been construed as my advocating any kind of censorship or restriction of free speech.  I do not know your father or anything about his situation and I believe everyone should have freedom of speech and assembly as guaranteed by the constitution. 

I also believe political correctness is crap and I was not name calling or finger pointing at anyone in particular (except maybe a little at the author).

The point I was trying to make was this..

When John Kerry made his comment along the lines of the soldiers in Iraq being less educated and therefore stupid I think most people found it offensive.  But instead of condemning him because he was on “their side” the left said he was just joking and that the right was too sensitive and should get over it.

When Jim Gilchrist associates with neo-Nazi organizations, and Ann Coulter makes statements like the one quoted above it is also offensive, but because they are on the “author’s side”  she said the left is over sensitive and should grow up.

I think most people have the ability to reason,  debate and even to come to general agreements without, well finger pointing and name calling.  I feel it is this entrenchment to protect their own that has kept the two parties from often reaching agreement and it is polarizing the public.

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If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. – Samuel Adams

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Posted: 06 February 2007 12:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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DH, I did not say you were finger pointing or name calling. I was under the impression you were accusing others of such. My post was to clarify why I was applauding the article. I will clarify my clarification. My father, whom I assume you have never given a thought, was a very personal example I was putting forth as the reason I think political correctness should not be legislated or thrust upon us. It only follows the agenda of those in power, and that is not right. I felt like you were discounting the entire article because you didn’t like the examples, e.g. individuals, the author chose to put forth. If I was wrong, so be it. Your post obviously confused me as well. Thank you for the clarification. I would completely agree with your last statement.

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Posted: 06 February 2007 01:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I believe that the comments people make reveal something about how they really feel.  In the cases of Coulter and Kerry, I think the comments give a glimpse into the inner landscape that makes up who they are.  To me Coulter is a non issue.  She is a political commentator.  Kerry, could have been president, and that is a concern.

First before I get labeled by others, let me label myself.  I believe the government should stay the hell out of people’s bedrooms/personal lives.  I am equally vehement in my belief that the government should stay the hell out of my wallet.  So you decide which party I should be in.

The topic really is censorship of debate.  I believe debate and discussion, exchange of ideas is a lost art in america.  There was a time when politicians were our leaders.  I believe they still are.  But now they teach people to make a statement, and then hide from debate.  They are too cowardly to back up what they believe…. or they are unable to.

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Posted: 06 February 2007 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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[quote author=“Garddawg”]
But now they teach people to make a statement, and then hide from debate.  They are too cowardly to back up what they believe…. or they are unable to.

Bingo!  To me this is the key to the article and it applies to everyone regardless of their political / philosophical views.  Political Correctness breeds fear and cowardice.  It also breeds ignorance and lack of skills necessary to back up what you say in an articulate and civilized fashion.  I don’t think we spend enough time teaching our children how to think and debate.  It’s more important to us as a culture not to squish anyone’s self esteem.

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No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
-Hebrews 12:11

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Posted: 06 February 2007 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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[quote author=“Garddawg”]
First before I get labeled by others, let me label myself.  I believe the government should stay the hell out of people’s bedrooms/personal lives.  I am equally vehement in my belief that the government should stay the hell out of my wallet.  So you decide which party I should be in.

Sounds like you are a Libertarian :D

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If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. – Samuel Adams

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Posted: 06 February 2007 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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[quote author=“Garddawg”]The topic really is censorship of debate.  I believe debate and discussion, exchange of ideas is a lost art in america.  There was a time when politicians were our leaders.  I believe they still are.  But now they teach people to make a statement, and then hide from debate.  They are too cowardly to back up what they believe…. or they are unable to.


[quote author=“Heather”]
Bingo!  To me this is the key to the article and it applies to everyone regardless of their political / philosophical views.  Political Correctness breeds fear and cowardice.  It also breeds ignorance and lack of skills necessary to back up what you say in an articulate and civilized fashion.  I don’t think we spend enough time teaching our children how to think and debate.  It’s more important to us as a culture not to squish anyone’s self esteem.

I agree with both of these statements.  But what often happens (as I believe happened here) is a good topic gets muddled and dragged down by partisanship

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If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. – Samuel Adams

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Posted: 06 February 2007 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Exactly. A good topic.
...and a writers job, as sometimes is a political commentator’s, is to be colorful and often a bit over the top.

Talking about the limits of censorship… should something I say, not do, ever be labeled a crime ??? ( with the obvious exception of yelling Fire ) Who are the writers of these hate crime laws ? Do we vote them in ? Are they a lobby ? Very scary.

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“No man who refuses to bear arms in defense of his nation can give a sound reason why he should be allowed to live in a free country”  T. Roosevelt

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not.”  Thomas Jefferson”

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid” - Gen Eisenhower.

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Posted: 06 February 2007 03:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I think it’s cowardice, the internet helps it along, but it’s basic cowardice.  Oh and maybe a little I want to win no matter who are what it hurts.

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All of life’s problems can be solved by heavy deadlifts.

M/54/5’11”/190

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